Roy Montgomery is an experimental guitarist based in Christchurch, New Zealand. Active since the 1980s, his atmospheric, primarily instrumental guitar excursions have been a significant influence on numerous post-rock, space rock, and avant-rock musicians. He has released numerous solo and collaborative recordings on labels such as Kranky, Siltbreeze, and VHF. Following early-'90s recordings as part of the group Dadamah, he made his solo debut in 1995, issuing several recordings of shimmering, reverb-heavy guitar instrumentals, including the sought-after Temple IV. Collaborations such as Dissolve (with Chris Heaphy) and Hash Jar Tempo (with Bardo Pond) followed, in addition to further well-regarded solo works such as 2000's The Allegory of Hearing. Following a mostly quiet 2000s, he shared a split LP with Grouper in 2010 and continued issuing material throughout the decade, including the ambitious quadruple album R M H Q: Headquarters (2016) and Suffuse (2018), which included several guest vocalists. In addition to his musical career, Montgomery is also a professor at Lincoln University in New Zealand.
Montgomery was born in London and briefly lived in Cologne, Germany before his family moved to Christchurch during the mid-'60s. He formed his first band, the teen garage combo the Psychedeliks, in 1971. After serving out the remainder of the decade in similarly obscure outfits including Compulsory Fun and Murder Strikes Pink, he co-founded the seminal Kiwi post-punk trio the Pin Group in late 1980. Their debut single, "Ambivalence," was also the first record ever issued on the now-legendary indie label Flying Nun, its echoing, darkly melodic guitar sound foreshadowing the evocative sonic approach Montgomery would continue to pursue for the remainder of his career. After the Pin Group disbanded in 1982, he received a $750 National Arts Council grant to form the Shallows a year later. Their lone 1985 single, "Suzanne Said," further honed Montgomery's expansive drone aesthetic. However, he then spent the next five years largely removed from music, instead balancing his studies of Russian language and literature with his interests in cinema and avant-garde theater.
Montgomery returned to performing in 1990 after a chance meeting with fellow Pin Group alum Peter Stapleton led to an invitation to join the fledgling noise-pop band Dadamah. After a handful of releases, the group splintered in 1993, with Montgomery resurfacing the following year with his first solo effort, Scenes from the South Island (Drunken Fish Records). With fellow guitarist Chris Heaphy, he also formed the duo Dissolve; Kranky issued their LP That That Is...Is (Not) that same year. Montgomery then spent the next year-and-a-half traveling through the U.S., England, and Latin America. During that time, he recorded a wealth of new material that found its way onto a series of singles for labels including Ajax, Siltbreeze, and Drunken Fish.
Temple IV followed on Kranky in 1996, while the following year he collaborated with the members of Bardo Pond in Hash Jar Tempo, issuing the album Well-Oiled. Also in 1997, Montgomery appeared on the Flying Saucer Attack EP Goodbye, and Dissolve released Third Album for the Sun. The solo And Now the Rain Sounds Like Life Is Falling Down Through It appeared in 1998, trailed a year later by the singles compilation 324 E. 13th St. #7 and True, a score for a theater piece in collaboration with Heaphy. Summer 2000 saw the release of Allegory of Hearing while Silver Wheel of Prayer, recorded during the same sessions, followed a year later.
Montgomery stayed quiet for most of the 2000s -- his only other release during the decade was 2007's double-CD Inroads, which collected tracks from singles as well as more recent, previously unreleased material. He resurfaced in 2010, sharing a split LP with noted fan Grouper. 2011 saw the release of TSG, a CD by Torlesse SuperGroup, Montgomery's duo with Nick Guy. In 2012, Montgomery shared a split LP with the Dead C's Bruce Russell. Later in the year, Montgomery's soundtrack for the film Hey Badfinger was released by Grouper's Yellow Electric imprint. In 2016, Montgomery released an ambitious four-album project titled R M H Q: Headquarters. All four albums were released as a CD or LP box set, or as individual LPs. Two years later, Montgomery released Suffuse, a full-length featuring vocals by Grouper, Haley Fohr (Circuit des Yeux), Julianna Barwick, and others.